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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Three Reasons Why I'm Proud of the Bengals' Season

Like any fan whose team has been ousted from the playoffs, I know how tradition suggests that I spend my time between now and Draft Day.   I know it’s time to join the disgruntled masses in storming the message boards, calling for coaches’ jobs,  and demonstrating a blatant disregard for the multitude of factors that led to our post-season exit, not to mention the difference between contractions and possessive pronouns.   

The problem is that I don’t view this season as a disappointment.  Say what you will, and unfortunately, how you will, about the Bengals.  I’m offering up three reasons why I’m not about to renounce my Who Dey nation citizenship.

1. Because we achieved what we should have

There are a lot of people out there who should rightfully deem this season a failure if it doesn’t end with a Lombardi Trophy.  They’re called “Packers fans”.   

Sure, the Bengals fan in me is disappointed that we lost to the Colts, but the football fan isn’t surprised. Neither is Vegas.    Indianapolis outplayed us in the regular season and barring some miracle on South Capitol Avenue, there was nothing to stop a repeat performance.  The only way we had a chance to win that game was if Cam Newton was Andrew Luck’s ride to Lucas Oil Stadium, and even then, Luck still probably would have found some way to pose a vertical threat from his gurney.

I can’t deny how much it would have meant to advance to the next round, but words like “underachievement” and “failure” have no place here.  So, let’s keep them where they belong – in the NFC South and Cleveland.

 2.  Because the key phrase in “lost in fourth consecutive playoff appearance” is “fourth consecutive playoff appearance”.

Hey - I get it if your only cognizant memories of the Bengals all end in the post-season.   But if you’re above the age of, let’s say nine, then surely you remember what’s it’s like to suffer through three and four win seasons, knowing it was over before the World Series had ended.   We are coming off of our fourth consecutive playoff appearance.  We lost on the road to a very good Indy team and now we are all melting down like a Week 3 Pats fan, just to prove to anyone who will listen that we won’t stand for anything less than a championship.  

By the way, that act only works when you’ve won championships.

Enter the need to blame Marvin Lewis – a man who is actually a victim of his own success.  Under his tenure, he raised the bar for our playoff expectations and as a result, we have gone from the guttersnipes of NFL fandom to some pretty high maintenance bitches.

I have heard a lot of “0/4” and “0/6” being slung around lately, but how about “0/12”?  That’s the number of teams who fired their head coach after being led to the post-season last year.   Maybe they just don’t have a “passion for winning” – which seems to be the remedy du jour from the peanut gallery.

Or maybe, when your team consistently makes the playoffs, common sense dictates that you make refinements with an exacto knife - not a hammer.   

3.  Because our season wasn’t defined by A.J. Green’s ankle, but by Leah Still’s heart. 

It wasn’t that long ago when our team served as the halfway house for the NFL and the headline “Bengals' News” was usually accompanied by a mugshot.  This season, our main “off field issue” was that Devon Still jerseys couldn’t be printed fast enough.

It’s not every team whose story brought out the best in the NFL, at a time when its worst was in the spotlight.  

In fact, it’s only one.  

Our team gained more fans this year than ever before and it had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not we lost the Wildcard game, but everything to do with the character and class shown by Devon Still, the entire Bengals’ organization, and our fan community.

For that reason alone - I’m not giving up on Cincinnati. 

At least not until Draft Day.


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